Environmental lawyer and 2024 Democratic Party (DP) presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (RFK Jr.) has announced that he will accept campaign donations in bitcoin (BTC). This makes it the first presidential campaign in U.S. history to accept bitcoin donations.
Kennedy made the announcement while speaking at the Bitcoin 2023 conference in Miami. The occasion was also his first public appearance as a presidential contender.
Bitcoin an exercise in democracy
Kennedy stressed the link between bitcoin and the pillars of democracy and liberty during the conference. If elected, he promised to “ensure that the United States remains the global hub of bitcoin.”
Before delivering his keynote address, Kennedy expressed his belief that people were passionate about bitcoin “not just because it’s a currency, but because it’s an exercise in democracy.”
The 69-year-old presidential candidate informed the crowd that he became interested in bitcoin after hearing about how it was used to circumvent financial limits during the 2022 Canadian trucker strike, referring to bitcoin as a “symbol of democracy and freedom.”
He asked the crypto community to support him as he campaigns for politics in 2024. He, however, cautioned that technological advances were enabling dictatorial governments. Nonetheless, if elected, he promised to protect the crypto industry’s interests.
The Democratic candidate running against incumbent Joe Biden has also been tweeting about his libertarian views on bitcoin. In a recent post, he alleged that the United States is impeding the crypto business and forcing “innovation elsewhere.”
Crypto has history of campaign donations
Kennedy’s attendance at the bitcoin event was intended to attract new voters and raise millions of dollars in donations.
During last year’s midterm elections, crypto companies and their CEOs demonstrated remarkable generosity, with disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried donating approximately $40 million to Republican and Democratic candidates.
Kennedy stated that his campaign would accept donations sent over the Lightning Network even though he does not personally own any bitcoin.
The politician’s decision to embrace bitcoin donations for his presidential campaign comes when bitcoin and the broader crypto sector have attracted more attention from regulators and lawmakers in the U.S., who are debating how to classify and regulate them.
Some politicians, such as Senator Cynthia Lummis and Representative Warren Davidson, have supported bitcoin and advocated a light-touch approach.
Others, such as Senator Elizabeth Warren and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chair, Gary Gensler, have raised concerns about its environmental impact, consumer protection, and market integrity.